Well-maintained, high quality infrastructure that makes use of advanced technologies and best practices are vital to ensuring the safety of all road users.
The quality of roads is a vital element of road safety, as is high quality road traffic management. Road surfaces or traffic management systems that are carelessly designed, of poor quality or are deteriorating can damage vehicles and put road users at risk.
Roads designed to minimize bottlenecks and ensure better traffic flow, as well as reducing roadside hazards, can have a significant impact on road safety. Replacing traffic signals with well-designed roundabouts has been shown to significantly improve the safety of road junctions, for example. The type of road also plays an important role: Europe’s fastest roads – multiple-lane expressways – are statistically the safest, while single carriageways (two-lane highways) tend to be the most dangerous.
Roads within the EU fall under the purview of national or local authorities. However, under the Trans-European Networks (TEN-T), programme, which aims to encompass 90,000 km of motorways by 2020, the EU will eventually have a role in the safety management of the roads belonging to the TEN-T network. Further, the EU has increased the requirements to audit the safety management quality of roads in the EU since Directive 2008/96/EC.
Beyond improving the quality and layout of the roads themselves are new Intelligent Transport System (ITS), technologies. ITS enables the provision of innovative management of traffic flow in cities, through the use of wireless, communications and computer technologies. Such systems can detect the flow of traffic, its speed and density. Using the information available, controllers can determine variable speed limits, whether or not to open or close traffic lanes, and help avert accidents.
Infrastructure has a key role to play in ensuring road safety, and continued investments in existing and new technologies will be vital for road safety stakeholders to achieve their aims. The automotive industry backs schemes and systems that will help reduce road casualties, and is working with stakeholders to ensure that the best outcomes are being achieved.